Shireesh Sahai, CEO, Wolters Kluwer India

Anil Mascarenhas, IIFL | Mumbai | April 13, 2016 14:40 IST

“With the hassle-free, low-cost and high-quality performance, mHealth could be the next big thing to happen to Indian healthcare industry. Lower expenditure, easy application and immediate response, will help save many lives.”

Shireesh Sahai, CEO & General Manager, Wolters Kluwer India
Shireesh Sahai, CEO, Wolters Kluwer India, brings more than two decades of experience as a global leader – working in India, the U.S., Europe, China, and throughout Asia.  Shireesh joined Wolters Kluwer after a career at General Electric Company where he held the position of Director of GE’s Healthcare Government business. 
 
Wolters Kluwer is a market-leading global information services company. Professionals in the areas of legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare rely on Wolters Kluwer’s leading information-enabled tools and software solutions to manage their business efficiently, deliver results to their clients, and succeed in an ever more dynamic world. Wolters Kluwer had 2014 annual revenues of € 3.7 billion, have over 19,000 employees worldwide, and maintains operations over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.
 
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Shireesh Sahai says, “With the hassle-free, low-cost and high-quality performance, mHealth could be the next big thing to happen to Indian healthcare industry. Lower expenditure, easy application and immediate response, will help save many lives.”
 
Give us an idea about mHealth in India? What are some of the significant benefits especially for rural areas?
mHealth is designed to bridge the information divide, enhancing accessibility to critical expertise with the help of a mobile device. Now if you look at the current scenario, there has been a significant growth in the ownership of smart phones over other devices. The majority of the population is in rural areas, which unfortunately lacks healthcare facilities the most, but the good thing is that, there is high mobile connectivity and ownership. In such a space, facilities like mHealth could help in bridging the gap between patients and medical practitioners by providing them high-quality information via mobile applications. It gives them a more cost-effective access to information than traditional ways.  Also, for doctors and nurses practicing in remote areas, there are less number of peers to consult with, in case of doubts. Use of mHealth applications will thus benefit the society in more than one way.
 
What are the key growth drivers for mHealth market in India?
The information technology is spreading rapidly. A large number of households are getting acquainted with digital media now. The power of internet on our palms, translates into power of information. With this as base, there is a great scope for growth of mHealth market in India.
 
mHealth facilities are convenient to use, especially when we find it difficult to visit a doctor for treatment. In remote areas, people avoid going for treatment unless there's an emergency, or for follow-ups, which at times lead to acute illness. Using mHealth, people would have access to medical information even from a distance.
 
Mobile health provides low-cost information/prescription. In a country, where people with chronic diseases do not go for treatment to save on readmission costs, mHealth could help in a large way. And also, the players in mHealth strive to provide high quality information.
These factors serve as growth drivers for mHealth market in India.
 
Tell us about the key challenges impacting the mHealth services in India.
Yes, there are factors that serve as a challenge too. For example, a big population is uneducated and found technologically challenged. However, doctors are now getting conditioned to the demands of time. They understand the relevance of mHealth, especially in reaching the lowest rungs of the society, which lacks a healthcare infrastructure. Other challenges include the need for confidentiality of consumer data, the improper performance of poorly-executed application that might become irritating to use etc.
 
India has been ranked second in adopting mobile healthcare, and so there is a wide possibility for this market to boom.
 
What do you see as the next big trend in mHealth space? With the CSR rule, are there enough public–private partnerships taking place which can help penetrate the remote areas faster?
It is estimated that mobile phone ownership will break records in the coming years. In such a space, a big growth in mHealth has been spotted to take place. More and more people will turn to services like mHealth to get medical information, the rate of which is already quite high right now.
 
A lot of hospitals in India, irrespective of whether they're government-run or private, are using mobile technology to deliver better health outcomes. More partnerships with local healthcare facilitators and more awareness will help mHealth penetrate even in the remote areas.
 
Whether there is a CSR rule or not, we believe that it is our responsibility to help the society in the time of need. When the earthquake hit Nepal, we rose to the occasion and provided doctors, hospitals, healthcare institutions, and medical relief workers in Nepal, complete free access to our Clinical Decision Support tool, UpToDate anywhere. We received huge response and the entire medical fraternity found it useful in meeting their local needs and delivering evidence based treatment to patients.
 
Given India’s mobile penetration, what impact do you see on the Indian healthcare industry?
India has been reported to be the 2nd largest user of mobile phone technology in the world. People are turning to mobile devices for almost everything. Such a situation serves as the ideal condition for the healthcare industry to venture into. With the hassle-free, low-cost and high-quality performance, mHealth could be the next big thing to happen to Indian healthcare industry. While some might consider mHealth to be a threat to the traditional healthcare industry, the truth is that it will only help treat a larger number of patients and delivering standardized treatment. Lower expenditure, easy application and immediate response, will help save many lives.
 
You started operations in India in 2006. How has the journey been so far? How different is it from other countries. Explain to us the business model of your company. What is your reach in India and globally?
We were founded in the Netherlands over 175 years ago. Our customers are professionals in the legal, tax, finance, and healthcare markets in over 170 countries. We are a global leader in our industry, usually ranking number 1 or 2 in the markets that we address. These strong market positions allow us to leverage our scale and consistently invest in our products.
 
Wolters Kluwer India is 100% MNC subsidiary and it’s been 10 years we have direct presence in India and I am glad that we could provide expertise to experts. Most of the healthcare institutions are subscribing to our various resources ranging from reference books to journals to softwares and services. Over 200 accounting firms are subscribing to iFirm, which is a year-old practice management solution. Indian market is still print dominant but we are witnessing rapid double digit growth for our digital solutions.
 
You have an app called 'UpToDate'? Share with us how can it bring a positive change in the medical sector in India? What are the new apps you are planning? How many downloads, so far?
UpToDate is a Clinical Decision Support tool, also available as mobile app which provides evidence based clinical information to doctors which support them in treating patient. It is an evidence-based, physician-authored clinical decision support system to help clinicians make the right point-of-care decisions. This app can help doctors and clinicians find out answers to any question they might have.
 
More than one million clinicians across 174 countries refer to it when it comes to evidence-based medical knowledge. With the increasing digital penetration in India, UpToDate has a credible customer base which includes around 10,000 specialists across India.
 
Apart from UpToDate, we have multiple solutions available in app format like Ovid, Lexicomp, Provation, 5 Minute Consult, Nursing solutions and many more. These apps are being already used globally.
 
What are your expansion plans in India?
Wolters Kluwer has a suite of leading and innovative digital solutions, which are used by healthcare professionals across the globe such as UpToDate, Ovid, Lexicomp, Provation, 5 minute consult, Nursing solutions, Healthcare Communication and many more.  We are aggressively penetrating the Indian market with these easy-to-use solutions.
 
Ovid is a research platform which enables healthcare institutions to access world renowned journals, eBooks, databases and many other resources electronically. It provides customized clinical, research, and educational solutions. Lexicomp is a drug information resource which provides clear, concise, point-of-care drug information, including dosing, administration, interactions, warnings and precautions, as well as clinical content, such as clinical practice guidelines. Provation offers documentation software to automate workflow for clinicians and nurses in a hospital setup. 
 
5 Minute Consult guides primary care physicians and is based on the best-selling clinical content in the family medicine market for over 20 years. It is the fastest resource to obtain the most likely diagnosis, treatment, and management for thousands of diseases. Our Nursing solutions- Procedures and Nursing Advisor, addresses skill gaps and continued education for nurses practicing in a hospital setup. Healthcare Communication course is designed to develop a culture of smooth and effective communication in the healthcare setup. It is the first of its kind in India and has been developed in collaboration with the Consortia of Accredited Hospitals (CAHO) and Baptist Hospital, Bangalore. The course aims to improve communication in healthcare organizations and thereby directly impact patient safety and the quality of care delivered.
 
These are some tools using which we plan to provide world-class medical solutions to every medical practitioner in the remotest of areas. We are also planning to take the concept of CA 2.0, which is an aspirational position for a CA firm. The CA 2.0 firm will include characteristics like leveraging technology to streamline internal processes, thereby, improving efficiency and productivity.
 
What is your offering in the tax and accounting sector? How many customers do you have here? Recently, you had launched Chetan Dalal’s book ‘Novel and Conventional Methods of Audit and Fraud Investigation’. Is publishing also part of your growth agenda or is it more for visibility?
Wolters Kluwer is well known among tax, finance and healthcare professionals around the world for its pioneering software and information service products. We recently launched this book, which not only offers an insightful and descriptive account of the types of frauds and accounting irregularities that prevail in corporate India, but also provides a combination of novel and conventional audit approaches to unearth such instances. The objective is to provide a comprehensive guide to auditors and others entrusted with the task of investigating, uncovering and dealing with the aftermath of white collar crime. Publishing is not in our agenda for growth, nor do we seek visibility out of it. It is merely a part of our job to provide insights into how to use some of the most advanced approaches and techniques in a simple manner.
 
It is said that given a chance patients would speak about their problem for 55 seconds, but on an average physicians interrupt 18 seconds into the interview. Will this continue to prevail and how do you think your solutions will overcome this issue?
The patient is often not given enough chance to express his problem, which leads to a communication gap between the patient and the doctor. Misjudgment results into treatment full of errors, causing even more damage than cure, sometimes even death.
 
Last year, we had launched a unique course on Healthcare communication called Lippincott Gurukul, an eLearning platform to cater to the educational and training needs of healthcare professionals. This online course is designed to develop a culture of smooth and effective communication in healthcare set-up. It is the first of its kind in India and has been developed in collaboration with the Consortia of Accredited Hospitals (CAHO) and Baptist Hospital, Bangalore. The course aims to improve communication in healthcare organizations and thereby directly impact patient safety and the quality of care delivered.
 
Wolters Kluwer provides doctors, nurses and healthcare practitioners with a platform to interact better. UpToDate gives everyone a chance to get their questions and doubts cleared, with validation from reliable sources.
 
What is the demand supply gap among doctors, nurses and allied health staff?
We have a huge demand supply gap of almost all the resources in healthcare, be it hospital beds, doctors or nurses. All this can only be improved by opening up new institutions and expanding current infrastructure and retaining these qualified resources within country. At the same time we need to enhance clinical skill at all levels and continuing education should be a must for all healthcare professionals throughout their practice.  This will help in delivering standardized health outcomes.
 
In the medical field, making a decision is often more important than making an incision. Give us some anecdotes of how apps are able to calculate the risk involved ahead of a procedure?
Yes it is true that in medical field, making a right decision is more important than making an incision. There are often cases when an error in judgement leads to wrong treatment. Clinical decision support tools can help clinicians with the right answers when they are needed and in the quickest time. For example, Wolters Kluwer offers innovative mobile solutions like UpToDate and Lexicomp which can immediately impact the quality of care and outcomes with evidence based insights at the point of care. These applications and services can include, among other things, clinical decision support, remote patient monitoring, video conferencing, online consultations, personal healthcare devices, wireless access to patient records, and prescriptions.
 
Comment on your R&D initiatives. Any innovations from India?
We have multiple R&D units in India. One of our leading solutions, iFirm is being developed and supported by our Chandigarh centre.  iFirm is a cloud-based solution to simplify and automate the running of accounting practice. We launched this in India last year and we already have over 200 CA firms enjoying increased visibility across workflow, resources and performance - ultimately freeing their practice up to spend more time adding value to their clients. iFirm is also promoted globally in many countries.
 
What is the vision for your company?
We are a global company that provides information, software, and services. Our customers are legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare professionals. Our brand has a strong purpose to serve customers making critical decisions every day. Wolters Kluwer helps them move forward with confidence.

 

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